Angry Asian shipowners call for action against rising ship piracy
MANILA, Philippines — Asian shipowners have expressed impatience, anger and frustration at the ever-increasing number of attacks on ships and seafarers by Somali pirates.
“Somali piracy and ship hijackings have become rampant since the collapse of Somalia’s central government more than 20 years ago. It is now time to take effective action and eradicate piracy,” said Johnson Sutjipto, Chairman of the 20th Asian Shippers Forum (ASF).
The ASF has expressed grave concern that the waters off the coast of Somalia have grown increasingly treacherous as hijackings, kidnappings, and extortion have proliferated over the past several years, forcing some shipowners to employ armed guards to ensure the safety of their ships and crews.
Robert Ho, the acting chairman of the Ship Insurance and Liability committee stressed that the various liabilities, potentially incurred through the carriage of private armed guards on a ship in an attempt to protect its seafarers, are defined.
Ho said these liabilities should not fall on the master of the ship or the owner, who may have no other option but to consider the employment of armed guards because Governments are unable or unwilling to provide the appropriate security.
“Pirates were once confined to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa, but with each success, they have grown ever more daring and extended their area of operation. It is high time for all governments, the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization to come together and put an end to these criminal activities! We cannot tolerate nor allow this to continue any longer,” said S. S. Teo, chairman of the Safe Navigation and Environment committee.
Yasumi Kudo, chairman of the Shipping Economics Review committee emphasized that, “pirates have apparently concluded that the rewards of hijackings far outweigh the risk of capture and punishment. The cost of organized piracy to global trade, estimated to be $7 to $12 billion per annum, is simply unsustainable.”
It was reported that 26 ships and 522 seafarers were being held hostage off the coast of Somalia, some for extremely lengthy periods.